Friday, September 16, 2016

A Night Without Stars by Jillian Eaton - Excerpt & Giveaway

A Night Without Stars

by Jillian Eaton

Genre: YA Paranormal

Summary from Goodreads:

You might know vampires...but you don't know Lola. 

Sixteen-year-old Lola Sanchez is no hero. Snarky, rebellious, and completely fed up with her life, she has one goal: graduate high school and get the hell out of her small hometown. Until a night of terror and bloodshed changes everything...forever. 

Now the only thing Lola wants to do is survive. But how can she survive when everything she knows has been destroyed and the one person she thought she could trust ends up being the most dangerous person of all?

Please Note: 'A Night Without Stars' was previously published as a novella entitled 'Pitch' in 2012. It is now a full length novel. All reviews prior to 01/21/14 are for 'Pitch'.

Buy Links:
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“You never told me your name, you know.” I tried to sound flippant, but even to my own ears there was a hoarseness in my voice that betrayed how perilously close I was to tears. I swallowed the hard lump in my throat. Crawling around searching for cameras like a deranged lunatic was one thing. Crying was another.

The boy folded his long, lanky body in half until we were at the same level and I had no choice but to stare straight into his eyes. It was like gazing across a stormy sea. You could see the crests of the waves as they broke out of the water, but the real turmoil was beneath the frothing surf, hidden from view. “Maximus.” His head canted to the side. “My name is Maximus.”

“Maximus, huh?” I tried to smile but the skin on my face wouldn’t stretch. Everything felt tight, from my forehead all the way down to my toes. The feeling reminded me of a few weeks ago when I’d tried on a pair jeans that were one size too small. By some miracle I managed to get them buttoned, only to spend the next ten minutes trying to peel myself out of them. Needless to say, I didn’t go home with a new pair of jeans.

That’s how I felt now. Like somehow I’d slipped into a body that was one size too small and my skin had to stretch to fit over it.

It wasn’t a pleasant sensation.

“I’m Lola.” I didn’t offer my last name, and Maximus didn’t ask for it.

“Sorrows,” he said instead.

I blinked at him in confusion, certain I’d misheard. “What?”

“That’s what the name Lola means. Sorrows.” Those stormy gray eyes studied me intently. “Are you sad, Lola?”

It was difficult not to squirm beneath the intensity of his pensive stare. Most kids in the twelve to nineteen age bracket were too busy looking at their cell phones to engage in eye contact that lasted more than a few seconds. Either Maximus didn’t have a cell phone or he just really, really liked making other people feel uncomfortable.

“I’m not sad,” I scoffed. Except I was. I’d just become an expert at hiding it. I wore my sarcasm like a shield, using it to protect the soft, vulnerable side I didn’t want anyone to see. A soft, vulnerable side that had no place in a world filled with drunken fathers and bloodthirsty monsters.

About the Author
I guess this is where I get to tell you all about myself! So here goes. My name is Jillian Eaton, I'm 29, a Leo, huge animal lover, Supernatural fan (Go Team Dean!), and coffee addict. I grew up in Maine and now live in Pennsylvania in a one hundred year old house I bought with my boyfriend a little over a year ago. Together we have three dogs, two horses, and a very fun, crazy, chaotic life. 

For as long as I can remember I have loved to read, and as soon as I figured out how to hold a pencil that love of reading turned into a love of writing. I self-published my first historical romance in 2012. Since then I have published thirteen novellas and six novels. While I primarily write historical romance, I've enjoyed dabbling in paranormal young-adult and contemporary women's fiction. 

In addition to writing, I teach two riding classes at Delaware Valley University (my alma mater) and train horses at a small private farm that I used to manage before I left to become a full-time writer!

When I'm not working, you'll most likely find me taking my dogs for a walk, fussing over my goofy thoroughbred, looking up house projects on pinterest, binging on Netflix, gardening, or attempting to cook (attempting being the key word).  
Author Links:
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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Four Truths and a Lie with Jennifer Derrick, Author of Avenging Fate + Giveaway

Four Truths and a Lie with Jennifer Derrick

Today we’re going to play a game: Four truths and a lie. I’m going to tell you five things about myself. Four of them are true and one is complete fiction. This is just a fun way of helping you get to know me.

Skip down below the image to read the answers and explanations after you make your guesses.

1. I ran a half-marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday, making a weekend total of 39.3 miles.

2. I had the honor of meeting Darth Vader.

3. Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor and performed surgery on all my stuffed animals.

4. I studied at Oxford University.

5. When I got the email confirming that Broken Fate was going to be published, I was cleaning toilets.

1. True. Yep, I was stupid enough to do that. Even stupider, I did it before ever completing a half or a full marathon on their own. Disney introduced something called the “Goofy Challenge” which is a half marathon on Saturday and a full on Sunday. Being a Disney nut and the sort of person who likes a ridiculous challenge, I had to do it. Twice. The fact that the second was followed by a lot of physical therapy isn’t something I dwell on.

2. True. No, I didn’t meet James Earl Jones, but I did get to meet the man who wore the Vader suit. His name is David Prowse and I met him when I was a kid, not long after the original Star Wars came out. He came by our mall and autographed pictures (and he wore the suit). I still have my picture, somewhere.

3. Lie. Unlike a lot of kids, I never entertained the idea of being a doctor. I don’t like ick and being a doctor is an ick-heavy profession. My stuffed animals were never my patients. I did want to be an astronaut, though, and even went to Space Camp a few times and started college as an aerospace engineering major before changing to something else later on.

4. True. I did a semester abroad at Oxford during college. Best experience of my life. I highly recommend that anyone who has the chance to study abroad do so. Side note: My professor gave everyone silly awards at the end of the term and mine was a mock Oscar for my portrayal of “The Invisible Woman.” Why? Because I spent so much time touring the country that I “forgot” to go to class a lot of the time. Still passed my classes, though

5. True. You want your publishing story to be something glamorous, but mine totally wasn’t. When Clean Teen Publishing emailed to tell me that they were accepting my book and offering me a contract, I was cleaning the toilet. My phone was on the counter next to me and I checked it when it dinged, thinking it would be spam. Fortunately, I had a place handy to sit down because I was shocked by the news.

Avenging Fate
Threads of the Moirae #2
Jennifer Derrick

Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: September 12th 2016
Genres: Mythology, Romance, Young Adult

Still reeling after killing the man she loved, Atropos turns her attention to the twin tasks of avenging his death and freeing humanity from the deadly grip of the Keres. When she sets out on a murderous mission to retrieve her shears, her only aide is her temperamental ex-boyfriend, Ares. He is fickle at best, traitorous at worst, and assistance from him may be worse than none at all.
Along the way, she allies with a group of powerful supernaturals and learns that the crimes of the gods are more twisted and far-reaching than she realized. What begins as a quest for vengeance becomes a journey through betrayal, loss, love, and hope. It ignites a war that will pit Atropos against the gods in a battle for the freedom of humanity.
Avenging Fate is the second book in The Threads of Moirae Series by Jennifer Derrick.

Grab book 1 – Broken Fate – for FREE!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo


When we reach Alex’s house, I’m not surprised to see that it’s been vandalized. With no residents to defend it, it was easy pickings. The front door’s been kicked in and the frame is splintered so it won’t close properly. A couple of the windows are broken, too. Once we’re inside, I’m relieved to see that most of the damage is limited to the kitchen. Whoever came here was looking for food and not much else. The presence of a rotting, stinking corpse on the kitchen floor probably made them hurry up and get out.

I leave Ares and Elaina to gather up any dog food and supplies they can find as I make my way down the hall to Alex’s room. Stopping in the doorframe, I grip it hard to keep myself upright. The memories and the grief come fast and hard, threatening to overwhelm me. The hospital bed is still in the room, as is most of the medical equipment that kept him alive those last few days. No one’s made the bed, so the sheets are still rumpled from Alex’s body.

The IV still hangs on the pole next to the bed, and the oxygen tank is on the floor under the bed. The needle and tubing for the IV and the cannula for the oxygen rest on the mattress where I dropped them the night I took Alex away from here to die in peace. The book we were reading together lies facedown on the mattress, open to the page where we left off. Everything is frozen in time, except the most important part. Alex is gone and he isn’t coming back.

Alex’s bookcases still droop alarmingly, although they aren’t as orderly as they once were. It appears the looters rifled through them, probably looking for stray cash tucked in the pages of the books. I force myself to cross the room and scan the shelves for anything that might indicate where Emily has gone. I also check the desk, but find nothing in either place.

I cross to the bed and can’t help myself. Picking up the pillow, I hug it to my chest, burying my nose in it. I catch the last whiff of Alex’s shampoo, the same fruity-spicy scent he always used. I’m aware this isn’t good for me and it’s not helping us with our mission, so I reluctantly put it down. But I can’t resist one other thing. Grabbing the book, I fold down the corner of the page we were on and tuck it in my waistband next to the gun. It’s sentimental and dumb, but I want to remember our reading time.
When I turn to leave, Ares is standing in the doorframe, watching me with an expression that is both pitying and concerned. I can stand the latter, but I don’t need his pity.

“Don’t say anything,” I warn as I push past him and head down the hall toward Emily’s room.

“I just came to see if you’re okay. I figured this would be hard for you.”

“Just getting up in the morning is hard for me, but I do it,” I say. “I’ll be okay.”


Author Bio:
Jennifer is a freelance writer and novelist. As a freelancer, she writes everything from technical manuals to articles on personal finance and European-style board games. Her interest in storytelling began when she was six and her parents gave her a typewriter for Christmas and agreed to pay her $.01 per page for any stories she churned out. Such a loose payment system naturally led to a lot of story padding. Broken Fate, her first novel, earned her $2.80 from her parents.
Jennifer lives in North Carolina and, when not writing, can often be found reading, trawling the shelves at the library, playing board games, watching sports, camping, running marathons, and playing with her dog. You can visit her at her official


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dragonfly Nightmare by Erin Richards - Excerpt & Giveaway

Dragonfly Nightmare
Once Upon A Secret, #1

Erin Richards

Publication date: September 12th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Suspense, Young Adult

To be a normal teenage girl.
To forget about the past.
To fall in love for the first time.
Is that too much to ask?
Sixteen-year-old Allie Bailey just wants a break—a break from her overly-protected life. And Dragonfly Meadows summer camp is the answer. A summer away from her parents in the California Sierras with her best friend is exactly what she needs.
But once at camp, Allie notices that things are a little off. Paid excursions are cancelled and staff is replaced with shady new people. When the camp’s founder goes “missing,” Allie starts to worry. Unable to let it rest due to her past, she starts to investigate, enlisting the help of Logan Montgomery, her best friend’s older and adorably geeky brother. 
When hauntingly familiar flowers appear in Allie’s cabin, she’s not sure what to think—has her past caught up to her? Yet, after Allie stumbles across a murder conspiracy and chases down the truth, she becomes a target. Pushing through her paranoia and fear to find strength, it’s up to Allie to save herself and the campers from a deranged killer before it’s too late.

Are you a book reviewer?
You can request a review copy of Dragonfly Nightmare here!


My life turned a corner today to a kickass summer. A glorious day sliding past go and collecting $200 on the highway to my freedom, two days after the ultimate Independence Day. I wanted to shout my bliss to the world, but I refrained from killing my mother’s eardrums any further. Nerd, much?
For the first time in my short sixteen years, I was headed to summer camp. How stupid exciting was that? For others it was no big deal, or even lame. For me, camp meant paradise, considering I’d begged my parents to let me go for the last four summers and got the big, fat no every flipping time. It wasn’t even about money. Just major overprotectiveness due to The Incident That Shall Not Be


Although I was joining the Teen Leadership Program as a Cabin Leader, I was coming apart at the seams to revel in the whole camp experience. Not all would be work, though. My best friend slash partner in crime, Laurel Montgomery, and I had dibs on fun. Escaping the house for two weeks was a major step toward more freedom in my life. I just wished my parents held my same excitement. The thought deflated my insane joy.

My gaze bounced to Mom’s white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. I brushed my fingers over her thigh. “It’ll be okay. You have to let me go sometime.” The four black beads rolled on my leather cuff as I withdrew my hand from her leg. I spun the beads around the band, ignoring their significance for a change.

“I know, Allie. I’m just—”

I curbed the urge to pull more of my hair out before baldness set in. “We’ve hashed this out. You’ve checked out the camp a zillion times. Carla Amadori’s family has owned the joint forever. Laurel and Logan love her, and you spoke to all the other parents.” Overkill if you ask me. “And you know Laurel and Logan will kill anyone who even looks at me wrong.” Even though I kidded, I mentally kicked myself for dredging up that bit of paranoia.

Four years ago on my twelfth birthday, a psycho abducted me and held me at gunpoint for twenty-four hours. My father’s investment brokerage had fired the freak and he flipped. I knew the man from attending various company events. I was lucky he didn’t lay his grubby paws on me or physically harm me. The mental damage was bad enough. Now everyone looked suspicious, and I couldn’t go anywhere without spying one person who looked like a deranged kidnapper. After counseling, I’d learned ways to cope with the trauma, but I still watched my back whenever I left the house. Seriously, I had developed eyes in the back of my head.

The Incident shaped my teenage existence in so many ways. Worst of all, it royally curtailed my freedom. Four smothering years later, because Laurel and her seventeen-year-old brother, Logan, my appointed watchdogs, talked my parents into letting me go, promising they’d stay with me 24/7, I was on my way. Without Laurel’s nagging, I’d be stuck at home this summer with the swimming pool, my cat, and the housekeeper eagle-eyeing my every move.

For the most part, I had buried the memories of the abduction. When I dwelled on them, I made myself believe The Incident was a fictional movie about a girl named Alex. Now, I just wanted to appease my mother before she changed her mind and locked me up at Casa Bailey for the summer. The gates to my prison had opened. By the skin of my dead body, I wasn’t going back inside.

“Happened a long time ago, Mom.” I fingered the bangles on her right wrist. “You have to let it go.” You have to let me go. “Everything will be fine.”

“I know. I know.” Mom’s fingers loosened on the steering wheel. “You have your phone?”

Groaning, I knocked my head on the headrest. “For the millionth time, you know we aren’t allowed to bring them.” The camp was electronic-free, back to nature, home to crappy cell reception. I had no problems living off the grid for two weeks. I wasn’t big on social media or texting anyone except Laurel anyway. The parentals also forbade me to engage on social media, so my phone was simply a phone.

“Right.” Eyes on the road ahead, Mom dug through her purse and withdrew a new smartphone. “Take this.” She stuck it in my hand. “Keep it with you at all times.” A charger landed on my lap.

“Are you kidding me? Mom!” I held the phone as if dog crap coated it. My nose wrinkled. “Paranoid, much?”

“No, I’m not kidding. Don’t tell anyone you have it. Not even Laurel or Logan.”

“You planning to call me every flipping day?” I stuffed the phone in my hobo purse and clutched the bag to my chest, my irritation fading as we neared the school.

“Watch your tongue.” She wheeled the car into the parking lot.

We passed through the familiar scrolled wrought-iron gates of my private school. The campground had a deal with the San Francisco school to use their bus to cart local kids to the camp. Otherwise, you wouldn’t catch me dead or alive on school grounds during the summer.

Vehicles jammed the small parking lot, ignoring the white parking lines. Logan stood by the Montgomery’s silver van. He’d morphed into a taller, sinewy geek with pale skin sorely needing a tan. Maybe he’d buy one at camp, far, far away from me.

Ugh. Why’d he agree to come this summer? Seeing him set off a tumble of thoughts inside my head and an odd crick in my heart I wanted to avoid. I’d once had a tiny crush on the gangly, too-tall-for-his-body loner. Into mixed martial arts, he had a black belt which made him king of the geek squad. Laurel, Logan, and I used to hang like birds on a wire at their home when my parents worked, which was all the time. Then the abduction happened. Next thing, I had the plague as far as he was concerned. He’d disappeared without a word to boarding school in Arizona, and then abruptly returned home this past December for his final semester of junior year. My crush evaporated along with many emotions and feelings that year. We’d avoided one another since his return, both of us burying our heads in the sand. Logan had much ado about the kidnapping, and neither of us had confronted each other about that gruesome event. Talk about lame times ten. Blame, resentment, guilt, sorrow, it all boiled up into a mixed stew when I thought about him. Confusion skewered me most of all. I repeat, ugh.

Author Bio:
Erin Richards lives in sunny Northern California. She writes young adult fiction and adult romance, where you’ll typically find her characters in peril, whether based in reality or a contemporary fantasy setting. Magic, murder and mayhem are all in a days’ work! In her spare time, she enjoys reading, photography, and re-landscaping her backyard, even though she hates digging holes…unless she’s burying fictional bodies! Erin also confesses to a fascination with American muscle cars…and reality TV shows. Keep up with Erin’s latest news, exclusive content, and giveaways and subscribe to her Newsletter.
Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Researching A Fence Around Her by Brigid Amos

Welcome to fellow Clean Reads author, Brigid Amos, with a post about researching her novel, A Fence Around Her!

I was on the editing team for this novel, and I loved the story -- especially the historical aspect -- so much so that I asked Brigid to come on the blog to talk about the research she did.

As I journey into the world of the writer, I find myself more and more accessing my right brain, the half that favors creativity over logic, feelings over facts. But old habits (or in this case, old brains) die hard. You see, in my former life, I was a soil scientist, and it’s nearly impossible to get any type of scientist to completely surrender to her right brain. Nevertheless, when it came to doing the research for my novel, A Fence Around Her, my fact-obsessed left brain served me well.

A Fence Around Her is set in the mining town of Bodie, California in 1900. You might wonder: Why Bodie? At the time I started the novel, I was living in Northern California, soaking up the history of the California Gold Rush of 1849. One evening, I was watching a TV show called California’s Gold, which highlighted little known points of interest around the state. That evening, Huell Howser, the jovial and enthusiastic host of the show, visited a ghost town in the Eastern Sierra. That ghost town was Bodie, and when I saw it, I got so excited I practically hurled myself into the screen. I knew I had to go there!

Bodie was far from my home and quite remote, but I managed to visit twice before relocating to Nebraska. On both visits, I took the tour of the stamp mill, where gold- and silver-bearing ore was crushed into dust and the precious metals amalgamated with mercury. The result was a substance not terribly unlike the stuff they still use to fill cavities in teeth, but in mining, there is a whole lot more mercury involved. On that first trip, I bought a respectable number of books from the museum bookstore. A year later, when I returned to Bodie, I threw reason to the wind and bought as many books as I could carry, although I couldn’t afford them at the time. I could tell the man working in the bookstore was worried about my sanity, probably because I bought so many things. I bought items they rarely sold, for example, obscure pamphlets such as “The Stamp Mill for Recovery of Gold” by Roger P. Lescohier. I’ve read this gem multiple times. (Yes, I am a mining nerd.) But he really reacted when I picked up something he probably never sold before: a detailed street map of Bodie in its heyday. I keep it in a fancy poster tube in my clothes closet, and regularly unfurl and examine it to get my characters going in the right direction.

Now the trick to writing historical fiction is to read, read, read, and read more about your time and location, but not to, under any circumstances, bore your reader with all those details. All that information should be parsed out naturally as the story progresses. Using two excerpts from A Fence Around Her, let me demonstrate what I mean by that. First, here is a scene in which my main character, fourteen-year-old Ruthie Conoboy, visits the stamp mill where her father works as head machinist:

Excerpt 1

As I moved through the door to the stamp room, the sound of the stamps crashing down onto the ore seemed to envelope my arms and legs, slowing me down as if I were trying to swim through a sea of syrup. It made my heart tremble and in some mysterious way tickled the bottom of my throat. I had to remind myself to keep breathing and moving forward. While the pounding of the mill was with me everywhere in Bodie, standing in the stamp room was to this day the most exhilarating experience of my life.

Watching the men working at the apron, I felt a light nudge at my arm like a dog sniffing at it. Mr. Waxum, the small, sallow man in charge of the amalgamation process, stood next to me. He held a little bottle up to my face with a grin, revealing big yellow teeth. I held out my hand to him, and with a precise tip, he poured into it a droplet of mercury. With a satisfied smile, he went back to his work.

For a time, I became absorbed in the little gift Mr. Waxum had given me, although he did this every time he saw me in the stamp mill. I rolled the mercury around the crevices of my cupped palm, wondering at its liquid silver softness. It seemed to be a tiny, mirrored globe, depicting the entire world in microscopic detail on its bright metallic surface.

You see? Not too much detail from Mr. Lescohier’s fascinating (ahem…to me) pamphlet about stamp mill operations. But what about that map? Well, later in the book, Ruthie is sent by her mother to look for a very bad man by the name of Tobias Mortlock. She really doesn’t want to find Mortlock and instead goes to her friend Susanna’s house for an embroidery lesson. But what will she tell her mother? So as not to flat out lie, she walks around Bodie, pretending to look for Mortlock. Here’s her route:

Excerpt 2

As I stood for a moment on Park Street outside Susanna’s house, considering what to do next, I realized that Susanna had swept back the bee and flower embroidered curtains and was watching me like a mother sending a small child out to play. Nodding my head and pointing in the direction of my own house, I moved out of her line of sight to where Park Street emptied onto Green Street. I thought better of walking home up the hill. The problem was that I had promised my mother that I would look for Mortlock, and while I had no intention of finding him, I hated to tell her an outright lie. It seemed like a short, cursory search was in order. That way what I told her regarding how I had spent the last few hours would at least have some small morsel of truth in it.

First I turned north on Main Street and passed the Comstock Saloon, after which I walked up Standard Avenue to linger for a moment in front of the Stamp Mill. From there I came back down to Main and went north of King Street, passing by John Wagner’s and the New Bonanza Saloon. Then I turned around and headed west on King Street through the old Chinatown, making a circle on Fuller and Green Streets back to Main. Walking a few blocks south on Main Street, I stopped to look at a few of the lodging houses there. Again I headed north, and as I turned the corner to climb up Green Street to our house, I glanced at the Old Sawdust Corner Saloon, catching my breath in my throat. From a distance, I had seen a group of men conversing on the porch. From their way of standing and physical build, I had already concluded that none were Mortlock. Nevertheless, when I forced my eyes in that direction, I still expected to see him there, pausing in mid-sentence, leveling his cold smile at me over his companion’s shoulder.

Yes, I wrote that with a map stretched out in front of me, a map on which most of the buildings mentioned no longer exist. Had I not, would anyone be the wiser? Only I and a bunch of other folks who are also obsessed with Bodie would know the difference. And that’s the thing about writing historical fiction: if the writer doesn’t believe it, it is very difficult for her to make the reader believe it.  

A Fence Around Her

Brigid Amos

YA Historical Fiction
Clean Reads
September 7, 2016

Can a girl break free from her mother’s past?

Having a mother with a past is never easy. For Ruthie Conoboy it becomes the struggle of a lifetime in 1900, the year Tobias Mortlock arrives in the gold mining town of Bodie, California. Ruthie is suspicious of this stranger, but her trusting father gives him a job in the stamp mill. Soon, Ruthie suspects that her mother and Mortlock have become more than friends. Can Ruthie stop this man from destroying her family?

About the Author

Brigid Amos’ young adult historical fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Storyteller, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Words of Wisdom. A produced playwright, she co-founded the Angels Playwriting Collective and serves on the board of the Angels Theatre Company. She is also an active member of Women Writing the West and the Nebraska Writers Guild. Although Brigid left a nugget of her heart behind in the California Gold Country, most of it is in Lincoln, Nebraska where she currently lives with her husband.

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